clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Assessing Ken Griffey Jr.'s Hall of Fame candidacy

Likely the only first-time selection from this year’s class, Ken Griffey Jr. had a long standout career.

Ken Griffey Jr. always had one of the sweetest swings in the game
Ken Griffey Jr. always had one of the sweetest swings in the game
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The son of a key figure of the Big Red Machine in the 1970s, Junior would end up surpassing what his father accomplished, and a whole lot more.

The case for Griffey as a Hall of Famer

He arrived in Seattle as a teenager in 1989 and finished third in Rookie of the Year voting. He was voted into 11 straight All-Star games (13 altogether), won the MVP unanimously in 1997 when he hit 56 bombs and drove in 147 while scoring 125, all league-leading marks.

In the 1990s, Griffey was a superstar. He accumulated MVP votes in each season, save 1995 when he was sidelined for half the season. From 1990-1999, his stat line was as follows: 302/384/581, 152 OPS+, 382 home runs, 1091 driven in and 151 stolen bases. That is an excellent career for most.

Griffey was also a spectacular fielder at the heart of the outfield, center field. He won ten straight Gold Gloves in those 90's, each of them deserved. He also accumulated 7 Silver Sluggers.

He led the league in home runs on four occasions. He batted over 0.300 eight times and cleared 1.000 OPS four times as well. For his career, he is sixth all-time in home runs with 630. He also is 28th all-time on offensive WAR, and 35th overall in bWAR. He is also 13th in career total bases, 15th in RBI, 22nd in Runs Created (RC), and sixth all-time in intentional walks.

All of the Hall of Fame projection tools, have him as a Hall of Famer, with JAWS having him pegged as the fifth best center fielder all-time.

The case against Griffey as a Hall of Famer

Honestly, the only thing I could even attempt to argue here is the final five seasons of his career, where he was only a 247/340/444 slash, which was still decent enough for a 102 OPS+.

Final WAR numbers

Baseball Reference has his WAR at 83.9. JAWS has him at 68.8. And Fangraphs has his WAR at 77.7.

My two cents

Griffey will be an easy selection, and a deserved first-ballot Hall of Famer. Not only was he excellent for a decade, he also had the longevity to accumulate some serious career numbers. Plus he appeared to always be very fan-friendly and press-friendly. He obviously won't be unanimous, as nobody ever is, but he'll clear 92% of the vote pretty handily.